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Dion Jackson protests against police violence on April 12, 2001, in downtown Cincinnati. Photo: David Maxwell/AFP via Getty Images.

On April 7, 2001, 19-year-old Timothy Thomas — unarmed and wanted for minor misdemeanors like not wearing a seatbelt — was fatally shot while running from police in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Why it matters: In the wake of the 2001 riots that followed his killing, Cincinnati overhauled its policing policies, which could prove constructive for cities looking to do the same today.

  • Thomas was the fifth African American killed by Cincinnati police in seven months, CNN reported at the time.
  • Several days of violent protests and civil unrest followed. Five months later, a jury found the white officer not guilty.

The city took several steps:

  1. Adopted a very specific use-of-force policy that banned batons, rubber bullets and chokeholds. Also instituted mandatory training for law enforcement on implicit bias, homelessness, drug abuse and de-escalation.
  2. Increased transparency by forming a fully funded, independent citizen complaint authority that publicly investigated allegations against officers.
  3. Changed policing model by targeting repeat violent offenders over minor crimes.
  4. Automatic body cameras: Newer technology has been implemented to automatically turn on body cams when an officer gets out of the car or pulls a gun or taser.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who was a member of the city council during the 2001 riots, said these actions have instilled more trust and transparency between the police force and the public — and he said it's also reduced both arrests and serious crimes by 50%.

Protests in the city have been turbulent: A police officer was shot on Saturday, but he was not hurt as the bullet struck his helmet. Over the last several nights, Cranley said the vast majority of agitators arrested by the police have been white.

  • "There are many things that are racially unjust here. We're not perfect. But we do think we have made some real strides," Cranley said. "It's a never-ending, continuous improvement."

Go deeper

Biden calls for charges against officers in Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake shootings

Joe Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday that the police officers in Jacob Blake's shooting and Breonna Taylor's murder "need to be charged," and called for an investigation into the individual who shot and killed a Trump supporter in Portland last weekend.

Driving the news: Biden was asked about these situations after delivering remarks about how to open school safely in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It comes during a week in which he's been out on the trail countering Trump's attacks about violence and unrest in America.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

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Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.